Kindergarteners and iPads: Sharing is Key

To give children iPads in school, or not – that is the question. The ‘correct’ answer to this question still remains a bit of a mystery. The use of iPads in the classroom has caused a political uproar in some school districts.

However, a researcher from Northwestern University may have a solution to the question of whether the classroom is a place for new technology. The solution: pairing children to share iPads.

Classroom iPads

In the study, the researcher examined a school district that was integrating a program to distribute iPads for each student in their kindergarten classrooms. This particular timing created a natural setting to study the effects of technology in the classroom.

The researcher compared kindergarten classrooms where each student had an iPad, students shared iPads in pairs, and students did not have access to iPads at all.

Over the course of one academic year, the researcher compared the classrooms, specifically students’ literacy skills, as measured by achievement testing.

The Surprising Results

Kindergartners who shared iPads with their classmates significantly outscored their peers on achievements tests compared to kindergarten classrooms with no iPads and classrooms with iPads for each student. Even after controlling for baseline scores and student demographics, the students in the classroom with shared iPads scored 30 points higher on the achievement test.

The researcher asserts that the collaborative element around the technology -- not just the collaboration itself -- led to students’ increased scores on the achievement tests.

Furthermore, these findings support how technology, like an iPad, can be used in early education to help promote learning and collaborative efforts. With technology, students will not only be exposed to new ways of problem-solving and thinking, but working in pairs may prompt the children to help one another learn. Children may also learn how to problem-solve together and get along with their fellow classmates. 

Shared iPads in the classroom is a reasonable compromise for both administrators, teachers, and students. It would be more cost effective and, according to this research, would have the best outcomes for the students.

StepUp Summary

StepUp combines movement, rhythm, and repetition with curriculum. As children progress through the program levels, they develop fluency in reading decoding, handwriting, and math fact retrieval.  

Watch this video to see StepUp to Learn in action!


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